REINTERPRETING LUXURY AT FASHION COLLOQUIA 2020
After successful events in New York, Rome and more, the third series of the Fashion Colloquia, an international research conference, has landed in beautiful Jaipur, India, where a selection of experts from around the world – from academia, media and the industry – met to discuss and debate on how essential and integral it is for people to protect and preserve the heritage and culture and the unique stories they tell.
Istituto Marangoni London Programme Leader Kirsten Scott was among the experts invited to explore the importance of a ‘Responsible’ future. Below is an abstract from her contribution.
Reinterpreting luxury: new perspectives on a cultural cloth
Luxury now: the problem statement
The massification strategies adopted by many luxury brands, with globalised supply chains and product lines that reflect fleeting seasonal trends rather than enduring luxury values, have contributed to a problematic global fashion industry that privileges profit over people and planet. Issues such as environmental pollution, over-production and mass-consumption, waste, exploitation and human rights abuses in the supply chain are ongoing subjects of concern and remain critical to any discourse about the future of luxury fashion. Increased public awareness of the social and environmental damage caused by the fashion industry has prompted some luxury brands to develop more responsible business models.
Sustainable growth is an oxymoron at a point when the finite nature of the earth’s resources and the frightening impact of climate change have become undeniable. Business models focused on growth seem not only old fashioned but reckless in this anthropocene era: fashion cannot continue to fiddle while the planet burns.
However, challenges and limitations can become a catalyst for reflection and innovation; we must reassess our values, how we live on the planet and the ways that we design, produce and consume fashion and imagine radical change. Luxury is an ideal arena in which to test out new, sustainable and holistic design methodologies: its high price point can accommodate research and development costs for materials, techniques and new forms; it is aspirational and highly influential – where luxury leads, others tend to follow; and the traditional values of luxury are actually compatible with sustainability: true luxury places emphasis on quality over quantity and celebrates the slow values of artisanal production married to innovation in design and technique. Timelessness, durability, heritage, rarity, craftsmanship, art and style are recognized as key facets of the luxury product and more recently sustainability has been explicitly integrated. (Kapferer and Bastien, 2012; Hennigs et al, 2013; Maisonrouge, 2013). However, the paradigm of ‘luxury fashion’ needs to further evolve in response to our increasingly urgent social and environmental imperatives.
Kirsten Scott, Programme Leader for Postgraduate Fashion Design Courses at Istituto Marangoni London School of Fashion & Design